Compliments of theilr via Flickr

Data regarding Americans and their investments are dire, with many reporting they have insufficient funds saved for retirement. The emphasis is on seeing an investment counselor, starting early, and being frugal in your finances.

These steps (done in moderation) may keep you on the path to retirement solvency – but taken to the extreme, are a recipe for bare minimum. Penny pinching can be an illness, with everything (and everyone) looked at with a scrupulous eye. If people are viewed as entities that can potentially take advantage, you will live a sanitary life.

Stingy individuals are tight fisted in more than one area: e.g., they unnecessarily scrimp on the smallest of items when they can easily afford to spend more. Each purchase/interaction is calculated with an almost perverse sense of precision, so that they may gain the most economy for themselves. Selfishness of this type is repellant to other people. As I’ve heard it said, “the gift of self is the perfect gift;” this beneficence permeates to all aspects of our being.

“Over thrift” in the worst case scenario is considered a form of OCD, known as “money paranoia.” Some examples include:

  • “[Expecting] other family members to turn off the shower water while they are lathering up with soap, and not to turn it on again until they are ready to rinse off.”
  • Refusing to turn on the air conditioning in summer, even when guests visit one’s house and express discomfort.
  • Inviting oneself to others’ homes for lunch/dinner in order to obtain “freebies,” and showing up empty handed.
  • Asking someone to select their own birthday present while accompanying them to the store – assuming they’ll choose something cheap because you’re watching.
  • Being obsessive about a budget and timeline for purchasing items.
  • Eating the bare minimum to conserve money, and only buying sale items (when funding is no object).
  • Showing an intrusive interest in the possessions, finances, and saving habits of others, while hoarding personal information of a similar nature.

“Overthrift” is a type of emotional narrow-fistedness, in which secrecy is the order of the day. Information is doled out on a need to know basis, and individuals are “baited” with bits and pieces so that they’ll ask for more. Dispensing a morsel is followed by the phrase “Don’t tell anyone.” Not surprisingly, these people stonewall when choosing non-answer. Their modus operandi is taking advantage, manipulation, and control. Extension of self occurs only if necessary, and only if it suits their purposes.

Budgeting gone overboard is an anal retentive way of parsing things into their tiniest components. A relaxed approach to life necessitates letting go of the insignificant, as opposed of keeping a ledger of pecuniary amounts. Never enjoying the finer things in life (even though you can afford them) is a negation of life itself. Some of us realize too late that we can’t take it with us, that life is fragile and finite, and that this is definitely not the dress rehearsal.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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